The federal states have demanded more money from the federal government for the conversion of livestock farming in Germany. There is currently a lack of financial security, said Saxony's Minister of Agriculture Wolfram Günther (Greens) after an extraordinary conference of agriculture ministers in Berlin. More money must be made available by the federal government if the goal is a "really comprehensive system", said the conference chairman, Schleswig-Holstein's Minister of Agriculture Werner Schwarz (CDU).
The federal government intends to support farmers with a total of one billion euros in converting their stables to higher animal husbandry standards and with ongoing additional costs. This means that only ten percent of the funding needs identified by a commission are available, said Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania's Minister of Agriculture, Till Backhaus (SPD), on the sidelines of the conference. The planned federal program has so far been limited to pig farming - there has also been criticism of that.
Özdemir: Funding of one billion euros is just the start
Federal Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir (Greens) said that the funding of one billion euros was only the start. But he also emphasized that the traffic light coalition in the federal government is doing more than previous governments. It is important to start now with the restructuring of livestock farming.
According to Minister Schwarz, the federal government was asked to present a concept for the next conference of agriculture ministers in autumn that takes into account the entire lifespan of a pig. So far, the plans of the federal government have left out sow husbandry, for example.
According to Lower Saxony's Minister of Agriculture, Miriam Staudte (Greens), the federal states have "really gotten together". The states had agreed that the federal government had to provide sufficient and permanent funding for the conversion of livestock farming. A long-term financing concept for the entire conversion is necessary.
"The big challenge lies in giving animals more space while at the same time complying with clean air regulations," said Staudte. The agriculture ministers have set a common signal for uniform application, so that the approvals are no longer blocked by conflicting requirements. There is a risk that stables that are converted for more animal welfare will release more emissions - for example because the animals can also get fresh air. Then exhaust air purification would no longer be possible. However, the emissions could be greatly reduced through structural measures and barn management.
Farmers' association is pushing for concrete results
The German Farmers' Association is pushing for concrete results. It is certainly positive that there is a broad consensus on the necessary improvements to labeling, financing and interpretation of the "Technical Instructions for Air Pollution Control" (TA Luft). "As before, however, there are only general work orders for expert groups and no binding and short-term time limit. We no longer have this time," criticized the Secretary General of the Farmers' Association, Bernhard Krüsken. Closing the significant gaps in funding and in the Animal Husbandry Labeling Act could not be delayed either.
"At the end of the day, no company can buy anything from the declarations," said the managing director of the interest group of pig farmers in Germany, Torsten Staack. It is crucial that one agrees on uniform criteria. "These are currently such major hurdles that even companies that have already started would shy away from making investments."
The Schwerin Agriculture Minister Backhaus demanded that "not only investments, but also the running costs that increase with more animal welfare must be compensated". Animal husbandry is an important building block for self-sufficiency in food. "We must do everything we can to prevent relocation abroad, which often has lower animal welfare and environmental standards, as well as wage and social dumping," said the SPD politician.